Read CHAPTER XII of Iole , free online book, by Robert W. Chambers, on

By early springtide the poet had taken an old-fashioned house on the south side of Washington Square; his sons-in-law standing for it as the poet was actually beginning to droop amid the civilized luxury of Madison Avenue. He missed what he called his own “den.” So he got it, rent free, and furnished it sparingly with furniture of a slabby variety until the effect produced might, profanely speaking, be described as dinky.

His friends, too, who haunted the house, bore curious conformity to the furnishing, being individually in various degrees either squatty, slabby or dinky; and twice a week they gathered for “Conferences” upon what he and they described as “L’Arr Noovo.”

L’Arr Noovo, a pleasing variation of the slab style in Art, had profoundly impressed the poet. Glass window-panes, designed with tulip patterns, were cunningly inserted into all sorts of furniture where window-glass didn’t belong, and the effect appeared to be profitable; for up-stairs in his “shop,” workmen were very busy creating extraordinary designs and setting tulip-patterned glass into everything with, as the poet explained, “a loving care” and considerable glue.

His four unmarried daughters came to see him, wandering unconcernedly between the four handsome residences of their four brothers-in-law and the “den” of the author of their being Chlorippe, aged thirteen; Philodice, fourteen; Dione, fifteen, and Aphrodite, sixteen lovely, fresh-skinned, free-limbed young girls with the delicate bloom of sun and wind still creaming their cheeks lingering effects of a life lived ever in the open, until the poet’s sons-in-law were able to support him in town in the style to which he had been unaccustomed.

To the Conferences of the poet came the mentally, morally, and physically dinky and a few badgered but normal husbands, hustled thither by wives whose intellectual development was tending toward the precious.

People read poems, discussed Yeats, Shaw, Fiona, Mendes, and L’Arr Noovo; sang, wandered about pinching or thumbing the atmosphere under stimulus of a cunningly and unexpectedly set window-pane in the back of a “mission” rocking-chair. And when the proper moment arrived the poet would rise, exhaling sweetness from every pore of his bulky entity, to interpret what he called a “Thought.” Sometimes it was a demonstration of the priceless value of “nothings”; sometimes it was a naïve suggestion that no house could afford to be without an “Art"-rocker with Arr Noovo insertions. Such indispensable luxuries were on sale up-stairs. Again, he performed a “necklace of precious sounds” in other words, some verses upon various topics, nature, woodchucks, and the dinkified in Art.

And it was upon one of these occasions that Aphrodite ran away.

Aphrodite, the sweet, the reasonable, the self-possessed Aphrodite ran away, having without any apparent reason been stricken with an overpowering aversion for civilization and Arr Noovo.